Ageing philanthropists inspired by Sydney University’s “radical and innovative approach”
Apr 21, 2016 | News | by The Learning Press staff
A couple in their eighties have gifted Sydney University $35 million to build a new health precinct.
The donation is the largest in the university’s history and comes from octogenarian millionaires Susan and Isaac Wakil, who emigrated from the Soviet Union and Iraq and made their fortune in the Australian garment trade.
The childless couple invested in property through the seventies which they began to sell off over the last two years to fund charitable causes - raising some $200 million from CBD properties left largely unused for some 40 years.
Last year, the Wakils gifted $10.8 million to Sydney Nursing School to establish 12 annual nursing scholarships.
The new gift will pay for construction of The Susan Wakil Health Building, bringing together the faculties of nursing, midwifery and health sciences with medicine, pharmacy and dentistry.
It will provide state-of-the-art clinical simulation programs and a multi-service clinic, as well as infrastructure to support team-based research.
“We were inspired by the radical and innovative approach the University of Sydney is taking to address immediate and future healthcare challenges,’’ Mr Wakil said.
“Susan and I are pleased to be able to make this project a reality.”
The Health Precinct will be built within the University’s main campus in Camperdown on the site currently occupied by the Blackburn and Bosch buildings.
Work has already begun on relocations, demolitions and site clearance, with main construction starting in May 2017 and completion of the 13-storey centre planned for 2019.
Facilities will include a clinical simulation laboratory, a rehabilitation gym, 350-seat lecture theatres, learning studios, treatment rooms and a 50-seat café.
“Thanks to the Wakil’s extraordinary gift, we can provide a hub for students of the health disciplines where knowledge and skills are shared and developed across the faculties,” said the university’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Michael Spence.
“By combining knowledge across disciplines, we can translate research into real-world outcomes.”
A campaign to support the University of Sydney has raised over $600 million via philanthropic donations since 2008.
The Wakils’ gift is the largest donation in the university’s 166-year history.
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